I love that boy, my toddler-man just turned three.
He has a way about him that makes anyone laugh, a character unique to his skin alone. He’s a brawny guy, deceptively heavy unless you have seen how much he can eat. His legs are bowed, his belly is round, and he has incredible strength. But even his hands can lose their grip, and when I heard the thud, and the jovial laughter in the living room turn to wailing, I knew he had taken a hard fall. I turned to see what had happened and Becca was leaning over his screaming body. Her piggy-back ride had turned sour when his hands slipped from around her neck, and she – still holding onto his legs – became a pendulum, with his head hitting first. I sent her to her room. Afterall, I had told them a number of times that day to stop rough-housing. Quickly gathering the man-child into my arms, I sat on the couch, him cradled up onto my chest. I felt his body relax, and at first thought he was just cuddling after his injury, my little one who loves to cuddle. Then I realized the wailing had abruptly stopped and I looked down, moving my shoulder so his head would turn up to look at me.
His head flopped over my arm, revealing his lips and nose turning blue and I realized he had stopped breathing. The pain in his life closing the doorway to the very air that sustains him.
I shook him hard, but no response. I lifted his chin and breathed into his mouth. Nothing. I shook him harder, my mind racing – what if he doesn’t wake up? – what else can I do? I shook him again and breathed a bit harder into his lungs, he moved and awoke, his head turning side-to-side and eyes searching round and round. I called to him three or four times to get him to focus, and the rolling stopped and he looked at me and said, “no, mama”. I didn’t have time to think. Fumbling for the phone, I called his doctor, who asked me to bring him over to watch him for any other reactions. I made a quick shout to the two oldest to grab their coats, found a coat for the bruised boy, and grabbed the baby and diaper bag. My mind a whirl, I rushed out the door, only to turn back for something forgotten and slam my hand with the door. The pain shot through my hand and arm and I struggled hard to just. keep. breathing.
Once we were on our way to “town” (a 20 minute drive) I found myself starting to rehearse what had just happened. I call my mom to stop the frantic thoughts of “what if he hadn’t woken”, and “what if it gets worse”…..
A voice on the other end of the line. A small cry of a baby in the background. I had forgotten. My mama is dealing with her own man-child who has forgotten to breathe. Like my toddler, her child-now-man has turned away from the breath that gives life, and instead opted for that which brings cold, blue darkness. She has tried to breathe for him, but he just never seems to awaken to the right choices, and my mom rocks his baby in the midst of the pain. She asks me how I am, and the story spills from my lips, me still calm in the midst of this mess. She talks to me until I get to the doctors – a well-needed distraction. The bruised one seems fine now – laughing at a movie in the DVD player on the way to the doc, his usual, silly-self shining through. We observe him for four hours, playing like normal and decide he is fine, and then head home for a final end to a very long evening.
They say the first breath a baby takes from the womb is the most difficult one. I don’t agree. Some trials bring us so much pain that our soul refuses to breathe. No matter how much our brain shouts for us to gasp for air, the cold blue of depression, anxiety, or despair creeps across the face and chokes out the hope of a future. Our Father hears our wails. And in the midst of this deep pain, our Saviour comes. He gathers us into his arms, carrying us close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11). He breathes the breath of life within us (Genesis 2, Job 12, 27 & 33, Isaiah 42) – our spirit-lungs filling even when our hearts are unable to breathe. He turns our weeping into rejoicing (Psalm) and in His Kingdom, there will be no more pain (Revelation 21).
When the pain of this world hits hard and aching hearts refuse to breathe, may our lungs be filled with the sweet breath of life from the lips of our precious Saviour.